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Sound Editing Basics: GarageBand

This resource guide offers a tutorial in GarageBand, a free software for Apple users.

How it Looks

This is the window that pops up when you open GarageBand. You can start with an empty project or an existing template. 

Choosing a template will allow you to record with pre-made settings for keyboards, amps, vocals, and hip hop instruments already set up. 

These are all the instruments you can use. When you add a new track you always have these four options. 


Getting to know the workspace is a pretty important first step. When you press the "Quick Help" (question mark) button to the top left, anything you hover over will show an explanation and often times a keyboard shortcut. 

These buttons bring up different workspaces and tools.



This pops up on the bottom when you click the smart control button. You get the controls and EQ  for one track or the master track. 

This pops up when you click the editors button which gives you features like flex, which allows you to keep your track on beat without affecting pitch and tempo. Other features include reverse playback for a region and pitch correction for a track. It allows you to edit close up and make tinier changes. 

The transport controls area gives you rewinding, fast forwarding, stopping, playing, recording and looping control. 

The stop button becomes a button for going back to the beginning when stopped in the middle or end of a track. 

All of them have keyboard shortcuts that you can find using the quick help button. 






There is a notepad for creating notes, a loop browser for saving and accessing loops, as well as a media browser for importing media.  


When going to the menu bar to Edit, you will see that you can cut, copy, paste, delete whatever is selected using the usual shortcuts. To split and join tracks you would use the shortcuts shown here as well. Splitting and joining occur wherever the playhead is. 

The cycle button allows you to loop play your audio clip. 

These are some tools featured in your workspace. 



Device Preferences

This is the preferences window that will appear if you go to the menu bar and go to GarageBand > Preferences. Here you can change the recording and playback devices as well as the recording channels. 

The media labs have M-Audio Fast Track and FocusRite Scarlett, and Behringer U-Phoria interfaces. 


Here you can select a MIDI device if you would like to use one. 

MIDI - A Musical Instrument Digital Interface is a way for synthesizers, samplers, or computers to record information and communicate with each other. For example, with a MIDI keyboard you may record a track, a computer will record the information as tones, and from that point on, you can replace the MIDI keyboard with a different instrument or patch that will playback the exact same information but with that instrument’s sound instead.

The Media Labs have Alesis Q25, and M-Audio MIDI Keyboards. The Behringer U-Phoria interfaces have MIDI ports in them as well for recording your own MIDI device in the Sound Booth.